By Cristina Scalzo
The other day, my aunt called and woke me up at ten in the morning. She was in the Portland area and was wondering if I was interested in going on a walk. I groggily said yes even though I knew I had a million things to do to prepare for finals.
This walk turned out to be a 5 mile speed walk/life update session. It also turned out to be a casual interview that landed me a short term paid internship working for her startup company. We hear a million times over how important networking is, and how 70-80% of jobs are obtained through personal connections. But let me just tell you again: Networking is THE MOST effective job search strategy.
Wherever you are, whoever you’re with is an opportunity to make a connection. This thought can make me nervous at times because I do not feel professional or prepared all of the time. I’ve brainstormed 3 simple and easy things we can all do to stay prepared for these networking run-ins.
- Keep your resume up to date: Our lives are always in flux. Every semester we take new classes, tackle new projects, clinical, field experiences and internships (just to name a few) and further develop our careers as students. All of these things are valid to put on your resume if you feel they are important to your career pursuit. Don’t wait until the night before you have a formal job interview to create or update your resume. Constantly be adding to and changing the information on your resume. I recommend updating at least once a semester. This not only allows you to be prepared if someone asks for your resume, but also helps you to be knowledgeable about you own experiences if someone was to ask you about them in a professional but unexpected situation.
- Have a personal jingle: How many times has someone asked “Tell me about yourself!” and you have stood there blank faced and forgotten exactly who you are. I know this has happened to me on numerous occasions. Combat this embarrassment by creating a 30 second personal introduction that you can use when meeting people. Things to include are your name (duh), grade, major, and a statement to make you memorable or interesting.
For example, mine might go a little something like this: “Hi! My name is Cristina. I am a sophomore elementary education major at the University of Portland. I am especially interested in Special Education and am currently volunteering at a homeless shelter working with kids and at the local elementary school doing after school tutoring.”- Simple, easy, and straight to the point.
- Keep a notepad (or IPhone) with you at all times: Like I said before, you never know who you are about to meet; they may be the “in” to your future job. It is important to remember the names and contact information of the people you encounter. A good way to do this is to record their name right after you are done talking to them. Having a list of networks can help when you when you begin a serious job search.
You never know if the person behind you in line at Starbucks may be the key to your future, but if you do these three things, you will feel more prepared and professional if that turns out to be the case.